My Life, Starring James Franco
Dear Friends, Colleagues, Fellow Writers and Readers:
I apologize for having to do this by posting it on an old-fashioned blog, but for some reason I have been locked out of my Facebook account and I’ve learned that most of my emails now get dumped into spam folders, and since Twitter is limited by character strokes I wanted to be sure that you understand all the reasons behind the fabulous news I wanted to share with each and every one of you. I am so pleased to announce that my life story has been acquired by Full Life Pictures to be made into a feature film written, directed, and starring James Franco.
And to answer the first question that I am sure is popping out of your lips right now—No, I have not had a chance to meet the multi-talented heartthrob yet, but during the negotiations to acquire my life story there were many questions and concerns that I was told was of particular interest to the man who once played James Dean, so, of course, I was flattered and star-struck, but I kept my wits about me at all such times, even during the most stressful moments of negotiations.
Unlike real life, movies are about collaborations and compromises, and since Mr. Franco has made so many wonderful, noteworthy movies, I knew that an artistic triumph would be certain if I entrusted many details of the depiction of my humble life story to this legend’s vision, such as his desire to alter my unpretentious beginnings on the descent of a dirt road atop a mountain in north Georgia to a more suitable gadget-filled room in a suburban hospital in Palo Alto, California. I had no problem with that change in the details of my birth, since the modern day successor to Orson Welles felt that it was important to modify the roles of my parents from those of an Eagle Scout troop leader and his pregnant wife on a vacation to that of an uber-intellectual couple in their sleek, ultra-modern home near a famous university now known for its high tech alumni. I also agreed to several other changes, such as relocating my formative years in the suburbs of Atlanta in the 1960s to those similar neighborhoods in northern California south of San Francisco during the 1980s. As an artist myself, I know how important it is for Mr. Franco to be able to use all of the resources he learned studying method acting to be able to method write and method direct the story of my all-so unexceptional life. If a more suitable location is required for his creative vision to rise up to the magnitude of his talents, then I knew it was the best choice for the movie version of my life. Why wouldn’t I entrust my life story to the man who has successfully filmed a literary work by Cormac McCarthy?
I am also pleased to say that I handled all of these negotiations myself directly with Full Life Pictures, without the aid of hiring an agent, mostly because of my horrific history with agents as a writer trying to sell a literary manuscript to a big name mainstream publisher (who are never interested in reading a work with a gay protagonist unless the writer has an M.F.A. degree or a celebrity parent). It was such a relief to accomplish this without having to wait to hear from an agent because he was on a vacation in Palm Springs, not that I have anything against Palm Springs, I don’t, I’ve been there several times with several boyfriends, some of them who even identified as gay even though they were married to a woman or advertised as gay-for- pay, but luckily I don’t believe that Palm Springs will be of focus to Mr. Franco’s retelling of my life story either, even though his latest feature film venture where he portrays a man wanting to become a gay porn actor and producer will be of continual interest to many residents in Palm Springs for years to come (no pun intended). But I also thought it important to thrust some of my confidence into Mr. Franco’s hands because of his ability to achieve several higher academic degrees from several different academic institutions all at once, all while making a film and teaching a class about it. If he can accomplish that and still not lose his looks, who am I to hold him back on the way he wants to see the narrative of my own life?
But as all of you dear friends, colleagues, writers and readers know, I can also be stubborn and defensive about obtaining and maintaining my own creative vision, and I felt that there were certain things about my life that could not be changed. So I also negotiated with successful aplomb the way this film auteur will handle the depiction of my immigration from the conservative South to the liberal North of the United States. Instead of telling my life story as a young man fresh out of college who left his traditionally religious family in Georgia for a hedonistic sex-fueled bachelor pad in Greenwich Village, which was overpriced even in the late 1970s, I have agreed to let this wunderkind shift the focus of the narrative to open with the depiction of an unruly teen who rebelled against all authority by getting drunk, spray painting graffiti, and shoplifting cosmetic items which could be sold on an underground teen market, but who was ultimately able to find his talent as an introspective would-be painter at a private school (and we all know that standing pensive in front of a canvas with a paintbrush in hand is much more romantic and character revealing on film than an actor sitting on a park bench reading a book). This will allow Mr. Franco to fully develop the character who is to be me on the rainbow-wide Technicolor screen (even though I expect he will film his screenplay using the most up-to-date digital technology, though I would be grateful with even a shaky hand-held Super 8 depiction of the story of my life).
Full Life Pictures also expressed a desire to have the screenplay about my life avoid the devastating, early years of the AIDS epidemic which were an integral period of my writing career in Manhattan, even though they understood it could be both a dramatic and heartfelt depiction of a challenging period in anyone’s life. The co-producers, who spoke to me on behalf of Mr. Franco, had concerns that such events would overshadow other key elements of my life that they felt were so important to depict in a larger than life fashion, and suggested instead that Mr. Franco might want to shift these coming-into-my-own years of my life story to Hollywood, where the actor Mr. Franco could depict me as a would-be writer trying to learn his craft and along the way meet a lot of hip, funny guys who also wanted to be writers, but who were, in real life, really would-be stand-up comics or handsome dudes wanting to become more famous actors, and which would allow Mr. Franco the opportunity to cast many of his good pals in these supporting roles, such as Seth Rogen and Zac Efron and Ryan Gosling. Of course I had no problem negotiating this change either, because I inserted a clause in our contract which allowed me to ask for visitation rights to the movie set on the days that Zac Efron or Ryan Gosling might be filming their scenes. And as a bonus perk, I also successfully negotiated a clause that would compel Seth Rogen to answer any question I had about filming The Guilt Trip with Barbra Streisand.
But there was also a considerable discussion about how gay these writer pals would be portrayed in the script of the movie version of my life, because all of my writer pals are gay men or lesbians and I felt it was important to be open and out and honest about one’s sexual identity during the depiction of any moment of a character’s life and especially in a movie in which I am to be the central character as depicted in the physique known as James Franco. The team at Full Life Pictures assured me that Mr. Franco would be respectful of any character’s sexual identity, even if it was presented as innuendo, gossip or scandal, and I successfully negotiated a clause that would allow the man who deconstructed, rewrote, and filmed a William Faulkner storyline not once, but twice, to add any sexually active, sexually fluid or sexually transitional character he felt was important to be included in the narrative of my life story.
That, of course, led to my largest concern about a movie version of my life: how all of my dates, tricks, boyfriends, lovers, sex partners, sex buddies, casual hookups, and pick-ups would be presented, especially in the dinosaur ages before Grindr and Scruff and Craigslist and Rentboy.com? And as someone who felt like he slept with several generations of the entire male population who either lived in or visited the northeastern corner of the United States, I knew that it was important not to revel in the pleasure of this but to use it to depict the challenges of a gay man trying to find a long term relationship when there are so many options available to him and every option he chooses turns out to be the wrong one because he has a penchant for going with the most attractive man with the worst possible ethics or settling for the nearest neighbor with the biggest dick. Full Life Pictures reiterated that they would be fully behind the story of a gay man’s inability to find love even if he were the same one as the chiseled face behind the expensive eyewear sold by Gucci.
So I cannot tell you how excited I am that I will become a member of a pantheon that includes Allen Ginsburg, Tristan, Darl Bundren, Benjy Compson, the Wizard of Oz, Milton Katselas, Hart Crane, Harvey Milk’s boyfriend, Aron Ralston, Harry Osborn, James Dean, and, of course, James Franco as Himself.
And I am proud to say that I did this all without consulting a lawyer or any other professional advisor with bleached teeth who charges a four-figure hourly rate. And at the last minute before signatures were requested on the final revised document that was submitted to me with a clause that allowed for financial rewards at a later date, I was able to get an additional perk added as being the inspiration behind the story of the man behind the movie of my life that would be brought to the big screen by a man who once hosted the Oscars: Full Life Pictures agreed to my request for a private, personal trainer/nutrionist/stylist to assist me in all matters necessary to ensure my participation at any future red carpet event!
All best, your dearest friend,
Jameson Currier is the author of seven novels, four collections of short stories, and a memoir of intimate writings which was a finalist for a literary award he did not win. He is the founder and publisher of Chelsea Station Editions, an independent press devoted to gay literature.